Sitting in a city under siege and locked in the palace, the prophet Jeremiah had no reason to think that things would ever get better, and yet when God told him to go out and buy some land, that’s just what Jeremiah did. He bought land in a battlefield while the battle was going on! Now that’s faith!
We aren’t exactly in the middle of a battlefield, but the local church may feel under siege these days. There’s a whole lot of data that points to the decline of mainline Protestant denominations. It’s not the same trauma as having the Babylonian army destroy your city, but it is a time to be reminded of our faith and re-covenant with each other to live faithfully. John Dorhauer, ever since he became President and General Minister of the UCC has been saying that he believes the Holy Spirit envisions a future in which the UCC matters. Envisioning that future was the theme of his installation service–all three of them.
The installation of Reverend John Dorhauer took place in three cities over three days in April–New York, Chicago and Seattle. Three cities because we are a denomination spread across this country and not in one place. Three services planned to follow in succession, each service building on the other and culminating in Holy Communion at the last service in Seattle. Three services so that there would be room to accommodate all those who came to bless this ministry. Three services and nine preachers! Nine different visions of that future the Holy Spirit has in store for us. The music! The prayers! The people! And, at the final service, when he was duly installed, all the people said these words in unison:
We receive John Dorhauer as General Minister and President, promising to labor with him and support him in our common ministry of the gospel. We covenant with John as a sign of our mutual ministry in Christ’s name. Amen.
It’s been almost twenty years since Janet Bristow and Victoria Galo began what now seems like such an obvious ministry: knitting shawls and sharing them with others as a tangible sign of the prayers of the community. Many United Church of Christ churches have a prayer shawl ministry. This ministry has come to mean so much to the people who knit, to those who deliver the shawls and to the people who get them.
Every week across our country people meet to knit shawls. Some of them use a three-part pattern in order to focus on the Trinity; some pray as they knit in silence; some pray over each shawl as it is finished. These shawls are never for sale. They are not for fund raising. They are for the comfort and outreach and sharing spiritual bonds, prayers for encouragement and community. When finished the shawls are given away to anyone and everyone who might need to know that they are loved and cared for.
Congregations sometimes send the shawls to places where disasters and violence have created chaos and despair. East Congregational UCC in Milton, Massachusetts, sent prayer shawls to the victims of the 2011 earthquake in Japan. UCC churches sent shawls to Biloxi, Mississippi after Katrina. Among the gifts a group from Global Ministries brought for children in Swaziland were a number of prayer shawls. The shawls were used as blankets for the small children to warm them in the cool evenings.
People who knit these shawls know the power of this ministry for deepening one’s prayer life and for bringing comfort and love to others. The knitters say they get as much from knitting a shawl as the recipients do from receiving one.
You will notice that the food pantry shelves empty out quickly, especially after the third Saturday distribution takes place. Out of our abundance, we need to meet the needs of others. On a Sunday morning, open your cupboard door and pull out a can, box, jar of something and bring it in and place it on the table at the front of the sanctuary. (Please check expiration dates before bringing in items.) Thank you!
Our church’s various mission groups have decided that they would like to purchase new towels, wash cloths and new blankets for those who may need them instead of becoming involved in the adopt-a-family project at Christmastime.
There will be a special offering taken September 25 to help purchase these items. Any donation you may be able to offer would be greatly appreciated. To date a total of $583.00 has been collected.
The Tuesday morning ladies group and the Board of Christian Education hosted a “repursing” party on Tuesday, September 13. A total of 25 purses were filled with a variety of small toiletry items which included toothpaste, toothbrushes, hand creams, tissues, etc. The purses will be distributed to the ladies at the Samaritan House in Lima, and a future distribution will be made with the remaining purses.
We thank everyone who donated gently used purses for the project. A special thank you is in order to the Et Cetera Shop in Bluffton for the very generous donation of used purses for the Samaritan House project.
Tues., September 20–Ladies meet at the church parking lot to travel to the Inn at ONU for lunch (11:30 a.m.); TOPS, 6 p.m.; Pastor Carol at Hilty Home, 6 p.m.
Wednesday, September 21–Men meet at Arby’s, 8:30 a.m.; Bible Study 10 a.m., Excellence in Ministry meets at St. John’s, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.; choir rehearsal, 7 p.m.
Saturday, September 24–Fall Festival in downtown Bluffton (check the Bluffton News and Bluffton Icon for details)
Sunday, September 25–Sunday School, 9:30 a.m.; Worship 10:30 a.m. Promotion of the Neighbors in Need special offering to take place Sunday, October 2. Mission offering for towels and blankets takes place during the worship service.
Theme for Sunday, September 25: Surprising Investment. American Indian Ministry Sunday. Scripture: Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15.
Consistory meets following the worship service on September 25.
Tuesday, September 27–Our Daily Bread soup kitchen in Lima
If you would like to volunteer for helping serve at Our Daily Bread soup kitchen in Lima on Tuesday, September 27, please sign up on the bulletin board in the sanctuary. Helpers are always welcome.
You are missing out on a super way to advertise our church if you are not sharing with many of your other Facebook friends St. John’s Facebook page. There are many interesting articles posted every day. “Friend” all of your friends and ask them to “Like” the St. John’s page–let’s let people know we are here, alive, and moving forward!
In an effort to make this site easier for you to access, it can now be found at www.blufftonstjohns.com! You can still find this page using the old web address, but now it will be easier to tell family and friends where they can find up-to-date news about St. John’s UCC in Bluffton, Ohio.